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Swimming/ Drowning in a Sea of Information
labandbooks
proseandkahn
My relationship with the Internet is complicated. Sure, it's a time suck and I'm drowning in information overload, but I so love those times when I discover some delightful piece of news or item of interest. Unfortunately, I am so terribly disorganized that I often lose trains of thought before they become coherent. 

I have lost count of how many blogs I have in my feeder. I have tried to count them. I've tried to weed them. I try not to add any more but I can't help myself. I often wake up to thirty or forty posts. If I'm really busy or traveling and can't regularly check my feeder (or emails for that matter) I find myself facing hundreds of posts in the feeder. When this happens, I just click through. I wouldn't even call it skimming. So I try to check in several times per day regardless of how busy. Then, I skim. I remember when I used to read each post carefully. Now, if the post doesn't grab my attention in the first paragraph, I might skim the rest. Chances are I'm clicking the next up in the feeder.

At home, when I see something that I want to check out more carefully, I click on the link to the actual blog, which opens a new window.  I usually end up with quite a few open windows but no time to check the blogs out. I don't like the clutter of many windows, so I send most of them down to the dock, where I tend to forget about them. (Most blogs are blocked at school, so I try to keep a running list of those I want to get back to but often end up losing the list. Yes, I'm that disorganized. Pitiful, I know.)

Early last  week, Monica Edinger posted a link to PW's preview of fall releases on her blog, Educating Alice.  She also highlighted many that she was personally happy about. "Oh! Very cool," I thought, until I clicked on the link to PW and saw just how long the article was and the fact that there were very few images. I left the window open on my desktop and tried to carve out some time to read it carefully. I thought that I could find something  or a Waiting on Wednesday post. Well, Wednesday came and went. I forgot about all the windows hidden in my dock when I got a message to update my computer. I lost all those pages when I clicked the "restart" prompt.

The PW Preview would have been gone forever since my Swiss cheese memory would not have retrieved it. Thanks to Travis of 100 Scope Notes and his Link Du Jour feature, I was reminded about it and happily followed his link to the page, where, because it is Sunday morning, I had the time to wade through the list more carefully. Now, I haven't even retrieved the Sunday papers from my driveway because of the time I spent on reading the article, then writing this post. 

Contemplating this mess got me wondering this: How can we teachers and librarians teach/ encourage/ demand/ beg students to read deeply with all the information we all swim in daily? I'm feeling a bit hypocritical. I should be reading more carefully. I shouldn't have so many blogs in my feeder. I should be reading books more critically. I try to blog about every book that I read, but I write so painfully slowly that it takes away from my reading time. I have eighteen unfinished reviews for the month of February. Some of them are for some very good books!

I think about the average middle school student who is dealing with math, social studies, language arts, Spanish, science, art, music, health, and any number of extracurriculars on a daily basis. Add to that homework, possibly dysfunctional home situations, shifting friendships, crushes, breakups, rejection, and the wringer that is puberty. Phew! It's a wonder any learning gets done at all! 

I have no solutions. Just reminding myself of all the stress we all swim in will help me be patient. That is all.



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